December 16, 2017

What Cookbooks Are on My Shelf?

If you are like me, you just love taking a peek at the books that people have in their homes, especially the cookbooks. So today I thought I’d give you a look-see at some of the cookbooks in my kitchen and also mention some of the online resources I use again and again for inspiration.


How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

This classic cookbook is one of my recommendations for the beginner cook. It teaches you to be a more intuitive cook by starting with a basic recipe and then showing you all the variations that are possible by simply swapping or adding a few key ingredients. It covers, well, everything from how to sharpen a knife, to how to make a simple sauce, to providing definitions and explanations for all things cooking related. The 2000+ recipes could keep you busy in the kitchen for months to come.

Way to Cook by Cooking Light

If you are a beginner cook or looking to learn new skills in the kitchen, this is also a great book to start with. It is a very visual book which I also prefer in a cookbook and covers all the basics such as how to store, separate and scramble eggs, how to debeard a mussel, and how to freeze pesto. It organizes the recipes by cooking method (steam, saute, stir-fry, broil, etc.) allowing you to fully immerse yourself in one technique and master it.

Breakfast by William Sonoma

I LOVE breakfast. Honestly. I could eat breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I had to have a cookbook completely focused on eggs, pancakes, waffles, and muffins. I’ve had this cookbook for many years now but still find that I turn to it again and again when I want to make something special in the morning. One of my all time favorite recipes…German Apple Pancake. Yum.

Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten

Ever since I saw the amazing, up close and personal cinematography of the Barefoot Contessa cooking show, I was hooked. If only I could have Ina’s kitchen. Sigh. Not only to I love the style of her kitchen, I really like her approach to cooking. She aims for depth of flavor but not overly complicated menus. She likes to use the best ingredients and the simplest techniques making cooking a joy rather than a stressor. This cookbook emphasizes this approach by including recipes that have a wow factor but are fairly easy to put together.

The Essential Appetizers Cookbook

OK, this book may be difficult to come by since I found it years ago in the bargain bin (although I am not sure why) but it is a reference I turn to again and again when I am hosting a party. It contains hundreds of ideas for wonderful, bite-sized treats to serve your guests from antipasto ideas to canapes to tapas. It was printed in Canada and because of that some of the recipes need a bit of “interpretation” but I have found it easy enough to navigate.

First Meals by Annabel Karmel

This is a cookbook we have just about outgrown but I just loved this book when my daughter was a baby and toddler. I often would make my own homemade fruit and vegetable purees and this cookbook gave me a great deal of inspiration. The recipes are divided into age ranges and go from smoother foods to more textured foods. The presentation is often fun and playful and  all the recipes are healthy and well-balanced.

The Family Dinner by Laurie David

When I picked up this book a few months ago and looked through it, I thought to myself “This is the book that was in my head!” So much more than a cookbook, it emphasizes the importance of the family dinner and provides wonderful tips for getting your kids involved in the process from helping out in the kitchen to playing fun games around the table. There are many inspirational quotes and eye-opening research findings peppered throughout the book making it a cookbook that you actually sit down and read through cover to cover.

Online Resources


This site is typically the first place I will go when I am looking for a new recipe. While many of the recipes have ingredient lists the length of my arm, the results are always so worth it.

Food Network

If I am trying to track down a recipe by Ina, Giada or Tyler, I head to this site.

Food Buzz

The internet is teeming with gifted cooks with mouth-watering food blogs, a number of whom are hanging out at this site.

What cookbooks are sitting on your shelf? Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. How to Cook Everything is by far my favorite, too. I have other cookbooks but none of them get used nearly as much as HTCE. I like it because it’s much more than a cookbook — it’s a resource. If I’m not sure how long to cook something, etc., I know the answer will be in there. Everyone should have a copy.

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